New York Times Editors: "In defense of their bill to slash federal spending by $61 billion over the next seven months, House Republicans claim they are trying to make the economy grow and create jobs. In truth, such deep and sudden cuts could derail the recovery.... The question is whether the Obama administration and the Senate can prevail against the false rhetoric.... It’s time for leadership." CW: see my comment on this -- a response to Frank Rich's column -- below. ...
... Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in a Washington Post op-ed: "In the midst of the Great Depression, our government managed to fund some of the most enduring and memorable documentaries, photographs, art and dramatic plays this country has ever produced. Our need for such cultured and civilizing influences is no less urgent now.... Polls consistently show that huge majorities of all Americans support public broadcasting.... Almost an admonishment, [President Ronald Reagan] spoke to me about the responsibility he saw for a private sector-governmental partnership when it came to public broadcasting and the arts and humanities. (His administration was very supportive of these long-standing institutions.)"
... Logrolling. Carl Hulse of the New York Times: how millions of dollars in earmarks led to billions of dollars in spending -- or so earmark opponents argue.
Karen Garcia: "the very same corporate billionaires sitting on nearly two thirds of the nation's wealth, the plutocrats responsible for the biggest wealth disparity in American history, are now being asked to hang out at the White House and solve the unemployment problem."
Glenn Greenwald on the trashing of Rolling Stone investigative journalist Michael Hastings: ".While Hastings seeks to expose the secret wrongdoing of the powerful, journalists like John Burns, Norah O'Donnell, and Julian Barnes seek to protect it.... Hastings and especially Lt. Col. [Michael] Holmes courageously put their names on their statements; but the powerful military officials who apparently broke the law are able to smear them without any need to identify themselves, thanks to their reporter-servants who serve as government spokespeople masquerading as journalists." CW: read the update, too. ...
... AND I missed this excellent post by Greenwald on "the many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President, who ran on a platform of 'protecting whistleblowers.'" Greenwald discusses the DOJ's creepy pursuit of New York Times reporter James Risen:
For a President who insists that we must 'Look Forward, Not Backward' -- when it comes to investigating war crimes by high-level Bush officials -- this anti-whistleblower assault reflects not only an obsession on preserving and bolstering the National Security State's secrecy regime, but also an intense fixation on the past. And increasingly extremist weapons -- now including trolling through reporters' banking and phone records -- are being wielded to achieve it.
Here MSNBC's Cenk Uygur interviews Greenwald, which covers aspects of both of Greenwald's posts linked above:
Dan Balz of the Washington Post: the National Governors Association, meeting in Washington, D.C., this weekend is "facing what could be one of its most partisan periods in more than a decade.... Obama will host the governors Sunday night for a black-tie dinner and will meet with them Monday for a session that is likely to include some direct give-and-take about some of the policies the Republicans most dislike. But before the NGA meeting started, the president met privately with Democratic governors." ...
This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice! -- Bradley Whitford, actor, at yesterday's rally in Madison. Video above Saturday's Ledes.
... Michael O'Brien of The Hill: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is trying to force workers in his state to give up their rights, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Saturday. Solis, speaking at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Winter Meeting, accosted Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) for their efforts to reform collective bargaining rights for public workers in their states." CW: I have been complaining for weeks now (see Comment #10, for example) about Solis' being AWOL as labor disputes erupt. I hear the White House reads some of my comments, so maybe I helped a little to nudge Solis out of hiding. ...
... Michael Fletcher & Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "With many working Americans financially battered by the recession and the years of economic uncertainty that preceded it..., [Republican governors] are aiming to be seen as friends of the middle class even as they challenge workers who themselves are middle class. Their success may ultimately hinge on whether voters see public employees as another privileged special interest or whether they sympathize with the workers standing up for their rights. In Madison, tens of thousands converged on the state Capitol on Saturday..... Smaller demonstrations were held at other statehouses across the country, including several that brought thousands of protesters to the District, Annapolis and Richmond." ...
Hide Away in Rockford. A unique tourism video:
... CW: we covered this the other day, but the story has developed legs, so it bears repeating in this iteration by Rick Ungar of Forbes: Wisconsin state employees pay for 100 percent of their pensions. The pensions are simply deferred income, which comes out of employees' salaries & goes into the pension fund. What Walker & Wisconsin's Republican legislators "are actually asking is that the employees take a pay cut."
Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: in "Indiana..., Gov. Mitch Daniels eliminated bargaining for state employees six years ago, shows just how much is at stake, both for the government and for workers. His 2005 executive order has had a sweeping impact: no raises for state employees in some years, a weakening of seniority preferences and a far greater freedom to consolidate state operations or outsource them to private companies." ...
Howard Fineman: "For all of the valid concern about reining in state spending..., the underlying strategic Wisconsin story is this: Gov. Scott Walker, a Tea Party-tinged Republican, is the advance guard of a new GOP push to dismantle public-sector unions as an electoral force. Last fall, GOP operatives hoped and expected to take away as many as 20 governorships from the Democrats. They ended up nabbing 12. What happened? Well, according to postgame analysis by GOP strategists and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi -- who chaired the Republican Governors Association in 2010 -- the power and money of public-employee unions was the reason."
Joe Nocera of the New York Times writes an entertaining -- and informative -- piece on why the biggest banksters won't do any hard time.
Clifford Levy of the New York Times: "Nearly two decades ago, the collapse of Soviet Communism offered the promise ... the newly independent former Soviet republics, sprung from the shackles of totalitarianism, would embrace free elections, multiple political parties and a vigorously independent media. But those hopes now seem premature, or perhaps naïve. In the 1990’s, the Soviet breakup sowed chaos — most notably in Russia — and a corps of autocrats arose in response, pledging stability and economic growth."
Nicholas Kristof: the idea that the Middle East is "unfit for democracy ... is insulting to the unfree world." ...
... Borzou Daragahi and Garrett Therolf of the Los Angeles Times report on some horrifying stories of murder & beatings by Libyan "security" forces, as related by people who have escaped the country.
Mark Sherman of the AP: Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, recalls his 2003 arrest and detention: over a 16-day period, he was "strip-searched repeatedly, left naked in a jail cell and shower for more than 90 minutes in view of other men and women, routinely transported in handcuffs and leg irons, and kept with people who had been convicted of violent crimes.... In the midst of al-Kidd's detention, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified to Congress about recent major successes against terrorism. No. 1 on Mueller's list was the capture of professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. No. 2 was the arrest of al-Kidd, a Kansas-born convert to Islam who was not charged with a crime.... The Supreme Court is weighing whether al-Kidd's arrest and detention violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The court, which will hear argument Wednesday, also is being asked to decide whether former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held personally liable...."
CW: a few days ago, I linked to this story reporting that Florida "Gov. Rick Scott said during a radio interview Tuesday that Florida shouldn’t move to take away public employees’ collective bargaining rights as the Republican governor of Wisconsin has proposed." I thought Scott was about to lose his status as Worst Governor in America. But no. It turns out Scott "opposes" rescinding collective bargaining rights because he likely can't easily rescind them -- they're written into the state's constitution. Here's a report from Julie Hirschfeld-Davis: of Bloomberg News: "While Florida’s constitution grants state workers the right to unionize and bargain for workplace rights, Scott said, 'It’d be great to be able to change it.'” Soott further says, “Our state workers don’t pay for anything into their pension plan. And we can’t afford that -- it’s not fair to taxpayers. If you didn’t have collective bargaining, would it be better for the state? Absolutely.'”
Fox "News," Orlando: "A woman who was the former president of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter in Gainesville has been arrested for drunk driving."
CW: there's so little U.S. news this morning that Yahoo News made this report one of its top five stories: "Todd Palin had trouble with his snowmobile skis toward the end of the world's longest snowmobile race as a rival team to surged to victory Saturday." I didn't read it. Palin probably blames President Obama's environmental policy for his loss.
New York Times: "... the Capitol authorities [in Madison, Wisconsin] announced on Sunday that demonstrators could continue their all-night sleepovers in the building and would not be forcibly ejected or arrested. Just one day earlier, the state agency that oversees the Capitol police had said that the overnight protests, which have occurred continuously for almost two weeks..., would cease on Sunday. The agency is led by an appointee of Gov. , a Republican.... Said Jim Palmer, the executive director of the 11,000-member Wisconsin Professional Police Association: 'Now it’s clear that law enforcement professionals are running the show.'”
New York Times: "In [Zawiya, Libya,] 30 miles west of Tripoli, hundreds of people rejoiced in a central square on Sunday, waving the red, black and green flag that has come to signify a free and shouting the chants that foretold the downfall of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.... Rebels, in control of the city, had reinforced its boundaries with informal barricades, and military units that had defected stood guard with rifles, six tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on the backs of trucks. In the central square here, a mosque was riddled with enormous holes, evidence of the government’s failed attempt to take back this city on Thursday.”
... New York Times: "resigned Sunday after a weekend of violent protests that left five people dead in the capital, Tunis. The prime minister, , had been the target of weeks of demonstrations by protesters who felt that he was tainted by his links to the old government."’s prime minister, a holdover from the government that was toppled last month,
... AP: "Hundreds of armed anti-government forces backed by rebel troops who control the city closest to the capital Tripoli appeared to be readying Sunday to repel an expected offensive by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi who have surrounded Zawiya. An Associated Press reporter who reached Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, confirmed the anti-government rebels are in control of the center of the city of 200,000. They have army tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks deployed. But on the outskirts, they are surrounded by pro-Gadhafi forces."
... Washington Post: the Obama Administration held back in its comments about the situation in Libya because "... diplomats in Tripoli told them that, in the words of one official, 'certain kinds of messaging from the American government could endanger the security of American citizens.' There were fears that Americans could be taken hostage."
AP: "North Korea threatened Sunday to enlarge its nuclear arsenal and mercilessly attack South Korea and the United States, as the allies prepared to start annual joint military drills which the North says are a rehearsal for an invasion."